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How Can Mobile Drive Charitable Donations?


At every Board of Directors meeting, we get asked what we're doing with mobile. And we don't have a good answer! So far, we haven't done much beyond removing Flash and ensuring that our site isn’t completely broken on mobile devices.We know that mobile is important. We agree that mobile devices are becoming many people's primary way to connect to the internet. We see that the percentage of site visitors coming to us from mobile devices is steadily increasing. We know we have to do something, but we're not sure what.There are many examples of successful apps and mobile websites out there. But we haven't seen or heard of any charities that are having great success with mobile.Texting campaigns like Text Haiti have gone viral, but that type of fundraising doesn't take full advantage of our model. DonorsChoose.org is at its best when individuals get to pick the classroom projects they'd like to fund, rather than giving $10 or $25 to an unrestricted pool.On the payments front, we know it's difficult to type in your credit card on a mobile device. And it’s not yet possible to easily make one-click donations from an app. Our site doesn't yet offer donors the option of saving their billing information, something we know we need to enable in order for mobile giving to be convenient.Here are some of the mobile scenarios we've kicked around:

  • Invite donors to back classroom project requests near their current location
  • Allow donors to easily flip through photos from classrooms they've supported
  • Enable teachers to reply directly to donor's messages, to speed up communication between donors and teachers
  • Enable teachers to upload photos of their classroom from their phones

Because mobile strategy and trends are evolving so quickly, we almost surely would have built the wrong thing if we had followed the crowd two or three years ago. There’s of course only upside to making every page on our site mobile-friendly, but that’s a large project for our home-grown web system, since we don’t use a CMS or site-wide publishing template.We’d appreciate any advice on our mobile strategy!Do you think people will make charitable donations on mobile? Can you point us at any examples of successful, on-going charitable mobile giving campaigns, outside of text-to-give for emergency response to natural disasters?Would you advise us to build an app or focus on having a mobile friendly website?What do you think are the key mobile user scenarios that we should tackle first?

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